Graduate recognized for global economic development

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Gene DePrez received the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Economic Development. He is pictured here with his wife, Patty.

Gene DePrez ’62, ’68 (art and design) was awarded the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Economic Development by the International Economic Development Council for his outstanding dedication to economic development.

The honor was presented at an awards ceremony in September during the council’s annual conference in Charlotte, N.C.

DePrez is a former director of communications at RIT and adjunct faculty member in the College of Continuing Education and in the School of Design, and has chaired the School of Design’s Professional Advisory Council. He and his wife, Patty ’76 (social work), are 25-year residents of Sparta, N.J.

“The Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Economic Development honors an individual who has consistently exemplified the highest standards of professional excellence throughout his or her career in the economic development field,” said Denny Coleman, chair of the International Economic Development Council and CEO of St. Louis County Economic Development. “Mr. DePrez is a stellar example of just such an individual and is undeniably deserving of this prestigious award.”

As founding partner of Global Innovation Partners, DePrez provides insight from his experience in both the public and private sectors to establish connections and bring resources together. DePrez now focuses much of his time advising economic development organizations, universities and science parks.

DePrez served for several years as chief innovation officer at Creativesheffield in Sheffield, England. Before that, DePrez was the co-global leader of IBM’s Global Location Strategies practice. He advised global companies as they chose locations for headquarters, research and development, manufacturing and operational centers. Prior to its acquisition by IBM in 2002, the Global Location Strategy practice operated within PricewaterhouseCoopers. DePrez led the two consultancies for 11 years and previously held consultant executive positions with other major firms.

His first foray into economic development came when he was a marketing professional at Kodak. When the presidents of Xerox and Kodak chose to make a TV documentary addressing the affordable housing crisis affecting Rochester, DePrez served as the film’s producer/director.

DePrez has been a longstanding and active member of the International Economic Development Council. He served on the board of directors for 12 years and as co-chair of its Economic Development Research Partners, and was recently named a visiting senior fellow.

DePrez credits his education at RIT, his experience as editor-in-chief of Reporter and his role as a student council officer for teaching him problem solving, team building, governance and communication.

“The professional recognition from my peers from around the world is deeply moving, but just as important to me is what it says about the value and breadth of my RIT education,” he says. “I am constantly asked how I found my way into global management consulting and what I studied. My clients want to know how I prepared for the strategic change and innovation consulting work that I perform for some of the world’s most complex organizations. I enjoy watching their expressions when they hear that my undergrad and grad degrees were in graphic communications design.”